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Health

Opioid settlement money coming to Michigan

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Monday that the state should soon start receiving funds from a $26 billion settlement of opioid related lawsuits.

The settlement involves three of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The companies will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022, Nessel said. Money will start flowing to state and local governments in the second or third quarter of 2022.

Michigan will receive nearly $800 million, with half earmarked for local governments. The money will be spent on programs to address opioid addiction in different communities.

“This settlement will allow us to combat opioid addiction in our community through various means, including the enhancement and improvement of our problem-solving courts in Genesee County, like our successful Recovery Court,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

While the settlement is the largest involving opioids, it’s not the last.  There are additional settlements pending, including a recent deal with Purdue Pharma, that could bring tens of millions of additional dollars to Michigan to combat the opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Nessel spoke about the settlement funds at news conferences Monday in Detroit, Lansing and Flint.   

In Flint, Nessel expressed concern that state lawmakers may be quick to accept the settlement money but slow to spend the money.

“This is a serious issue,” Nessel told reporters, “What’s the point of getting these settlements for the state if it’s just going to sit there.”

Nessel spoke in the auditorium of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Flint.

The church sits in a part of the city hit hard by the opioid epidemic. 

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said in the past year, within a mile of the church, 105 people overdosed and were treated with Narcan, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Swanson said 27 people died of an overdose in that area.

Rev. Jay Gantz is the pastor of St. Andrews. He said he’ll know the money is having an effect when the conversations in his church focus more on recovery and less on addiction.

“Not just those who are affected by the drugs or using the drugs,” said Gantz. “Everyone — every single person” in the community surrounding his church.

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